Equipping Tomorrow's Leaders: The Global Leadership Initiative

In today’s increasingly interconnected world, students must develop a more diverse skillset. Today’s students not only need to think critically, they also have to be entrepreneurial and innovative in a global context. This is exactly what the Global Leadership Initiative (GLI) is achieving. This year, the inaugural class of GLI Fellows began a four-year process of out-of-the-box leadership training, service and collaboration equipping them to be leaders on a global stage. All of this is possible through private donations.

The program consists of four critical components that help students become engaged, articulate global citizens.

Component 1: The Context of Global Questions. GLI Fellows begin their freshman year in small seminars focused on enduring global questions. They also attend the President’s Lecture Series, then meet in groups to discuss and apply the topics addressed in each lecture.

Component 2: Models of Leadership. Each year, GLI Fellows will interact with professionals around the world who have ties to UM, and who have perspectives on important global issues. Through Models of Leadership, GLI Fellows learn about experiences and strategies for operating in a constantly changing business climate.

Component 3: Beyond the Classroom. Global learning isn’t confined to a local classroom. As such, GLI Fellows have the opportunity to study abroad, participate in internships, complete service-learning coursework/research and develop their own creative activities. Each GLI Fellow receives a passport and opportunities to apply for funding to cover travel or research expenses.  

Component 4: Leadership and Teamwork Brought to Fruition: the Capstone. Working in small interdisciplinary groups during their senior year, GLI Fellows apply their learning, proposing solutions to crucial global issues in a capstone project. All successful Fellows are then awarded a certificate of completion at graduation.

Amanda Arriondo, UM Freshman and GLI Fellow

Amanda Arriondo, one of the first Fellows, is excited about the program. “The first semester was great,” Arriondo says. “We went to the President’s Lecture Series, and then had discussions. And this semester, second semester, I’m even more excited. We’re starting a study of climate change, and there’s a lot of interaction happening.”

Students aren’t the only people excited about the possibilities of the Global Leadership Initiative. Alumni and friends such as Mollie Iler, ‘53 of Washington, D.C., have stepped up in a big way, as well. “I met President Engstrom last December,” Iler says, “and I was really impressed with him. When I heard about the Global Leadership Initiative, I knew I had to support it. I even wrote to President Engstrom, telling him how important I thought the initiative is.”

In Iler’s letter, she offered the perspective of someone with a 30-year career in foreign service. “From my perspective of years of foreign service,” a portion of the letter says, “I was glad to see that not only are there plans to stage seminars at the University by visiting national and international scholars, but there will be opportunities for studying abroad. Nothing can beat firsthand experience overseas to broaden one’s understanding of other cultures.”

Iler’s words closely parallel President Engstrom’s three overall objectives for the Global Leadership Initiative. First, offer unique experience-based educational opportunities and professional training infused with international and interdisciplinary emphases. Second, create opportunities for global engagement and leadership by funding students’ participation in co-curricular, study abroad and service-learning activities. Third, promote student involvement in leadership roles related to current global issues. All of those objectives, taken together, help fulfill President Engstrom’s vision of making the University a place of opportunity where students can succeed.

Students such as Amanda Arriondo are embracing that opportunity. “We’re starting to pick our own tracks, based on our interests. I want to go to South America, because that’s where my father is originally from. So the Global Leadership Initiative is helping me prepare for that.”

Opportunity also brings challenge, and Arriondo is up to the challenge as well. “When I first heard about it, it sounded kind of intimidating. But also exciting…and I’m really enjoying what I’m learning. My advice to anyone considering it is, don’t be intimidated and just give yourself to the experience. It’s so worth it.”

Pictured Above: Amanda Arriondo, UM freshman and GLI Fellow